The Goat and a Young Boy’s Vanity – Day 23

GloPoWriMo 2019

Day 23  Prompt to write a poem about an animal. And I’ve done too many ‘cat’ poems so that today I chose to write about a Billy Goat. I took a scene depicted both by Captain Cook and one of his crewmen. When I say ‘today’ – (I am late.) Had two goat poem I’d written a while back but it wouldn’t be playing the game to use something so out of date. So here I am, a new poem and quite pleased with it. Research is always fun and exciting. To be late at this end of the month is no shame I feel.

dealcastle.jpg Goat

Aboard the Deal Castle 1775 (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich,  UK)

The Goat and a Young Boy’s Vanity 


The father had come to trade. To Captain Cook,

he offered green stone chisel and blades. Cook,

in return, offers this Maori man “many little presents.”

To the man’s young son, a shirt of his own. Now,

with no little vanity, the lad shewed of his finery.

That beautiful proud parading ‘tamariki’ *

swamped in such unfamiliar cloth as to make

some theatre. But theatre, on this ship’s deck,

belongs it would seem to Will the Ram Goat:

and so he rushes the child who is now skid

in dirt and seeking sympathy from his father.

Will the Ram Goat would like it otherwise yet is

restrained while no pity given unto this father’s, (a Chief’s)

humiliation. The crewmen seek only good intentions

and thereby refresh both boy and shirt. Whereupon

that same shirt is wrapped then close in the

thankful father’s possession.

While Captain Cook gifted a few goats to Maori

too soon they were made a meal and that was of little

purpose; breeding may be more helpful. And

so in more devious fashion Cook released the

goats in unpeopled bays. Will the Ram Goat

was likely left on deck. Some goat as returned

to their homeland, England; some as not.

Benita H. Kape © 24.4.2019

* tamariki  =  child or children


3 thoughts on “The Goat and a Young Boy’s Vanity – Day 23

  1. And so, with the best of intentions, Cook unleashed a menace on the NZ ecosystem.

    I do like this story, though, and your telling of it is lovely. I like the use of tamariki – reminds me that these are alien cultures meeting.


    • The only quadruped the Maori had was their dog. Cattle, though they were with Cook, had less likely hood of surviving. Goat were never widespread here by Cook. He set them free on one very tiny island. Those goat given to any Maori were pretty soon in the pot though. The husbandry of sheep took time to accomplish but that and pork, and yes Cook gifted some of those too, have always been the preferred meat for hangi (earth ovens).

      What I found interesting in the story was the phrase “many little presents”. It denotes perhaps the value Cook saw in the primitive but highly effective green stone tools offered. These are of enormous value. But then Cook would not want to travel with highly valuable items to trade in return.

      I love researching these subjects. I’m glad you enjoyed the story too. But the most celebrated of Cook’s goats was his Milch goat who never went dry and travelled around the world not once but twice, never giving up on the milk provided. That was one of the other goat poems I wrote back in 2015


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